CDC scientist says the U.S. is ‘nowhere shut’ to herd immunity

People wait in line for coronavirus illness (COVID-19) vaccinations at Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital in Willowbrook, Los Angeles, California, February 25, 2021.

Lucy Nicholson

The U.S. is “nowhere close” to reaching herd immunity from Covid, and extra transmissible variants imply much more folks will want to get vaccinated to attain it, a CDC scientist mentioned Friday.

Herd immunity happens when sufficient folks in a given neighborhood have antibodies in opposition to a selected illness, both by way of vaccination or prior publicity to the virus. That makes it troublesome to unfold from particular person to particular person and even protects individuals who haven’t any immunity.

“Currently we know that the majority of the U.S. population is not immune to SARS-CoV-2 and variants may cause this portion of the population that is not immune to increase,” mentioned Adam MacNeil, an epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

To attain the threshold of herd immunity whereas battling new, extra contagious virus strains, a better proportion of the inhabitants wants to get vaccinated, MacNeil mentioned at a Food and Drug Administration assembly reviewing Johnson & Johnson’s utility to authorize its Covid-19 vaccine for emergency use.

Scientists do not imagine immunity lasts endlessly. It weakens over time, and that would exacerbate the outbreak as beforehand protected folks grow to be susceptible to an infection, MacNeil mentioned.

MacNeil’s feedback come per week after a Wall Street Journal opinion piece claimed the U.S. will obtain herd immunity by April.

While Covid variants have proven to lower the effectiveness of a Covid vaccine to shield in opposition to an infection, vaccines have confirmed efficient at stopping extreme illness and hospitalization in opposition to the extra infectious strains.

Scaled up vaccination would considerably decelerate the present trajectory of a extremely contagious Covid variant that was first recognized in the U.Okay. from turning into the dominant virus pressure in the U.S. by March, MacNeil mentioned.

MacNeil mentioned elevated vaccination will probably be vital for the nation to catch up to the benchmark.

“Vaccination has started and hopefully this is moving us closer to filling the herd immunity gap.”

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